Haas’ strong inside play is reason for Tigers’ fast start
When you watch Emily Haas play basketll, you see a player who works extremely hard.
Her blue-collar mentality toward the game, combined with her natural skills, is what’s made the 5-foot-11 Haas into one of the premier players in Nevada.
Through seven games, Haas is averaging around 16 points and 14 rebounds a game, and she’s been the reason why Douglas High’s young squad is off to a 5-2 start .
“We wouldn’t have won five wins without Emily,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “She’s played well offensively, and done a great job on the boards.”
Rebounding is Haas’ forte, and she proved her worth when she pulled down 16 rebounds in a 49-39 win over Galena recently, avenging an earlier 19-point setback. She’s had a couple of games of 20-plus rebounds already.
She can also play some defense, too. Both rebounding and defense take desire, and Haas has plenty of it. She’ll take the toughest defensive assignment, and she’ll dive on the floor for a loose ball.
“I just go after the ball; just try to give it my all,” Haas said. “Being aggressive is a big part (of being a good rebounder).”
Christen was even more succinct.
“It’s tenacity,” Christen said. “She’s very fundamentally sound. She gets her butt down, and puts spacing between her opponent and the basket, and then she goes up and gets the ball.”
Christen is quick to point out that it’s not Haas’ scoring average or rebound average that makes him admire Haas so much. It’s her intelligence, basketball aptitude and desire to get in there and mix it up with people.
“I’ve been coaching 17 years, and I’ve never seen anybody work like she does,” Christen said. “She never takes a sequence off whenever she’s in the game. She plays every sequence like it’s the last minute of the game.
She’s one of the most intelligent big girls I’ve ever coached. She knows where the other four players are supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Indeed. Haas is like a coach on the floor, and she’s had to be because the Tigers have seven sophomores on the team. She’s’ stepped into the role vacated by Andrea Honer, the state’s top player last season.
“Andrea always wanted it so bad,” Haas said. “She led the team big time. We were a very close team. It’s amazing how we got so far. I have had to be (a leader) this year. We have a quiet team; a young team.”
And, one that Haas hopes will get better by the end of the season.
“I think we can get to thestate finals again,” Haas said. “It has a lot to do with heart, but I don’t think the girls are ready. In order to go far at state, you have to be a team.”
If Haas has a weakness, it is finishing, according to Christen.
“She’s still missing some easy shots,” her coach said. “She’s so quick she anticpates contact and it’s not there.”
“I tease her that she does that just so she can pad her own offensive rebound stats,” Christen said.
Haas, by her own admission, is not a perimeter player.
“I’m the only post player that doesn’t play outside,” she said. “They keep me inside for rebounding. I’m not the strongest player with the ball, but I have gotten better. I’m using my left hand a little more.”
Christen believes that Haas could play at the next level either at power forward or center. In fact, she was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game.
“I think she could have gone to a mid-major (Divison I) school, I really do,” Christen said. “I had coaches from Sac State, Idaho State and Santa Barbara contact me. Basketball is something she does in between her other (volleyball) seasons.”
Haas knows that she will play her last competitive basketball game sometime in late February.
The Douglas senior verbally committed to play volleyball for the University of San Diego, a member of the West Coast Athletic Conference. She’ll sign her official letter-of-intent later in the school year.
“I’ll probably miss it (basketball),” Haas said. “I wouldn’t be able to do two sports in college, and volleyball is my favorite sport.
“They (San Diego) talked to me about playing basketball; asked me if I wanted to do that. They said it would be really hard. I have a hard time in school anyway, and playing two sports in college would be even harder.”
Haas said the USD coaches told her that she has a good chance to see extensive action immediately because the team lost a middle blocker to graduation last May.
Haas’ introduction to volleyball wasn’t exactly a smooth one, however.
She started playing volleyball in seventh grade, but admitted she didn’t learn very much.
She stuck with it, and joined the Douglas Volleyball Club when she was a freshman, and despite being the youngest player on the team, her volleyball career took off.
Haas has been an all-state middle blocker the last two years at Douglas, and her club team took third in the nation in the Junior Olympics under-17 division in Salt Lake City last summer.
“It (Junior Olympoics) was an amazing experience,” she said. “We were never the best team. Once we got there, we totally clicked.”
Middle blockers can sometimes go unnoticed, or get less exposure than outside hitters, but Haas manages to get her share of accolades. When you play in the middle, you are moving laterally, and that’s where Haas uses her athleticism and quick feet to her advantage.
“Middle is what I know; it’s all I’ve ever played,” Haas said. “It would be
cool to play outside, but it’s so different.”
Darrell Moody, Record-Courier sports editor, can be reached at 782-5121.